Friday, 1 January 2010


Happy New Year to everyone.
The new year kicked off with a real wintry feel to it, a thin coating of snow, ice on many surfaces and a chilly northerly breeze. At least the sun shone for the whole day and to make the most of it, my wife Nolly and I, walked 15 kms around the north side of the Island from the country park to West Mersea.

The park pond pictured above remained ice-free although there was plenty of ice on the adjacent flooded field. The small selection of wildfowl on the pond included mallard, gadwall, shoveler, tufted duck, teal, wigeon, mute swan, little grebe, coot and moorhen. There was no sign of the male pintail that Andy Field had seen here earlier in the day or the woodcock that had got briefly tangled up in some fence-wire at the park. A fox was curled up on the grass near the pond enjoying the winter sunshine.

On the grazing fields there was a small flock of 200 golden plover and 50 black-tailed godwits, along with a few lapwing. On the nearby saltings there were lots of waders roosting during the high tide with redshank, dunlin, knot, grey plover and black-tailed godwit the main ones. Several wigeon, teal and brent geese were also feeding on the saltings below the Golfhouse.

In the Colne, one eider was seen although 3 had been present earlier, while 15 red-breasted mergansers were also noted. It seemed many of these mergansers flew into the Pyefleet to join some of the others there so at least 20 birds seen in total. Also in the Pyefleet were 3 male goldeneye as well as lots of wigeon and teal.

The long section of the Reeveshall and Maydays seawall was virtually deserted with other walkers but the bright conditions provided ideal viewing. Big bird flocks were seen on Reeveshall with 400 brent geese, 150 black-tailed godwits, 2500 golden plover, 200 lapwing, 1000 starlings and 300 rooks/jackdaws. Also seen were sparrowhawk, little egret, 20 skylarks on the saltmarsh, 3 rock pipits and a green sandpiper, while on Langenhoe there were 3 marsh harriers seen flying about.

As the tide dropped lots of waders arrived along the Pyefleet Channel and into the side-creeks like this one at Maydays where a few redshank, curlew as well as 2 little egrets. Three marsh harriers were seen flying over the fields of Reeveshall and Maydays while a little later west, four more flew over the saltmarsh near the Strood.

Several flocks of fieldfares were noted with about 50 in bushes near Maydays farm, then another 100 with at least one redwing in hedges just east of the Strood, followed by another 100 roosting in bushes near the Dabchicks by West Mersea.

The sun was just setting as we walked along the home straight by the Strood Channel to West Mersea. Lots of the familiar waders and ducks were along the mud with the main ones being dunlin, knot, redshank, curlew and lots of wigeon and teal.

Other than 500 brent geese feeding in the field near Strood Hill, the only other birds on the landward side of the wall of note were 18 corn buntings perched on wires near a small pond.

Steve Entwistle saw 3 Slavonian grebes, shag, Mediterranean gull and an eider offshore from West Mersea. A great spotted woodpecker was drumming on a tree in Firs Chase in the morning.


Anonymous said...

Happy new year, Dougal. King Winter has returned in this part of the world: everything is covered with snow.Jan

Dougal Urquhart said...

Happy New Year Jan. We're certainly in the grip of winter with all the snow and ice everywhere. It certainly feels like a Siberian wind when the breeze picks up! Stay warm!
Regards, Dougal